How our appearance-obsessed culture affected me at a young age

We are constantly bombarded by images of young, thin girls in advertisements retouched to perfection, and magazines headlined with “How to Achieve the Perfect Beach Body”. A perfect body has now been redefined as a thigh gap, a flat stomach, large breasts and butt, curves, and a thin body.

Men are expected to be toned, muscular, tall and with six pack abs. Since we are surrounded by these images and ideas, it’s not difficult to see why many of us aspire to look a certain way. This culture has placed a large emphasis on aesthetics and that emphasis extends even to the very young. Girls younger than the age of 10 are critical of their appearance.

This fascination with aesthetics places a value only on looks, rather than personality or intelligence. We begin to place our worth to how skinny we are, and how beautiful we are. This allows the cosmetics industry, weight fads, and plastic surgeons to profit off of people’s insecurities instead.

I have encountered body issues. From a young age, I began sucking in my stomach when I walked, and wearing oversized sweaters to hide my weight. I began weighing myself 3-5 times a day, counting calories, and living by a strict diet. This escalated into taking laxatives, attempting to throw up, and starving myself.

I didn’t want to be alive if I wasn’t skinny and no number on the scale would make me happy.

I wasn’t diagnosed with an eating disorder, but these were still self-destructive behaviours I developed because I thought I wasn’t “good enough.” These are common, prevalent issues that plague our youth today and my experience is only one out of thousands.

I began to practice self-care, and began seeing a psychiatrist. This allowed me to talk about my insecurities and how to deal with my issues in a healthy way. I stopped my self-destructive behaviours and began using healthier alternatives instead. I still have insecurities, but I am not solely focused on my appearance and haunted by my imperfections.

I have come to terms with the fact that perfection is unattainable and that I should appreciate the way I am instead.

Are you struggling with body issues or an eating disorder? Talk to us, we’re here to help.